Monday, February 27, 2017

The growing significance of Bear Naked

In the past month some new Bear Naked cereals have been appearing on some grocers' shelves. While that might not sound like big news, it actually is since these are the first of their cereals to come in boxes and not as pure granola plays. It appears that there are three new Bear Naked varieties: Chocolate Almond Clusters, Toasted Coconut Clusters, and Sweet Honey Clusters. While they contain granola clusters, these cereals are based around multigrain flakes.

I first came across Bear Naked 11 years ago, and at that time was impressed with their creative marketing and pouch packaging. Kellogg also took notice, and by the end of 2007 had purchased the cereal startup. Since then, despite some branding updates, Bear Naked has largely been a granola manufacturer. Things started to change, however, last year when they began a serious foray into custom cereals, the first time for one of the major cereal companies. Now, in 2017, with these new boxed cereals Bear Naked is ready for the mainstream. Within the larger Kellogg family Bear Naked appears to be focused on delivering hearty, natural cereals; a unique position compared to the health-food image of Kashi, and the more conventional varieties under the Kellogg label. It may also be that Bear Naked will accomplish what big K was hoping to accomplish in their lackluster Origins line launched two years ago.

Bear Naked is quickly emerging as a strong brand, and with continued focus could provide Kellogg a powerful new place in the minds of consumers.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

The expanding Raisin Bran(d)

With the literally hundreds of cereal options available to consumers, manufacturers have a challenge keeping their brands from all the clutter. The trend in recent years is to build on already successful brands, instead of trying to launch out with something completely new. For this reason we now see super cereal brands like Honey Bunches of Oats, Cheerios, and Special K, each offering a myriad of flavor and nutrition variants in order to catch people's attention in the grocer's aisle. If you like a cereal such as regular Cheerios, it is not a big leap to venture out for some variety with flavors like chocolate, ancient grains, or honey nut.

The latest example of this strategy is Kellogg's Raisin Bran, one of the best selling cereals on the market. The Battle Creek company has been gradually adding new cereals to the Raisin Bran portfolio, including three quite recently: Crunch Apple Strawberry, Cranberry Almond Granola, and Raisin and Honey Granola. This now brings to seven the number of offerings with "two scoops of raisins" along with fiber-rich bran.

The new Crunch Apple Strawberry, in particular, looks real interesting, and something I definitely want to try. I suspect others will as well, and that is just the way Kellogg wants it.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Is it time for hot cereal to be disrupted?

Over the past few weeks, several tips out of Canada (including a segment on NBC's Today Show) have revealed that General Mills is experimenting with some innovations to stodgy old oatmeal. For a limited time in the Great White North consumers can buy Lucky Charms Instant Oatmeal and Cinnamon Toast Crunch Instant Oatmeal. Pairing a traditional hot cereal with an irreverent, popular cold cereal brand is powerful. I am amazed no one has thought of this before.

For years I have been observing the slow, but growing trend toward oatmeal, and porridges in general. Hot cereal is a comfort food, and with the increased convenience factors (i.e. instant and single-serve packaging) offers a nutritious alternative to the typical cold cereals that dominate the marketplace. Already there are dozens of oatmeal brands readily available in the supermarket, and many more niche varieties as well.

General Mills told NBC that their Canadian experiment is an eight-week trial, and that "there are not any plans at this time to introduce the product in the United States." Porridges are somewhat more popular in Canada (any big surprise?), so this is a good test market for them. I would love to hear what General Mills learns from this venture, but I hope they decide to expand their offerings to more brands and to the U.S. as well. At minimum it could get children hyped over oatmeal!

I have long contended that with the breakfast cereal market in decline, innovation is critical. This could be an opportunity for the big players to extend their already well-known brands to hot cereal. Kellogg has already done this with Special K, but they all could benefit from following General Mills' lead with Lucky Charms and Cinnamon Toast Crunch and try other pairings. Some naturals that come to mind for me would be Apple Jacks, Cap'n Crunch, Cocoa Puffs, and Froot Loops. What about Boo Berry, Count Chocula and Franken Berry in the fall?

What fun, new hot cereals would you like to see?

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Follow us on Instagram

Things have been quiet around the Breakfast Bowl lately, partly due to work we're doing to expand and improve our site and cereal banter.

One of the enhancements that we are happy to unveil right now is our new Instagram account. Be sure to follow us at @the_breakfast_bowl for photos about cereal, and especially boxes, including many from my collection!